By Dan Sewell
CINCINNATI: Procter & Gamble Co. has tightened security at its Cincinnati headquarters after a breach that allowed an eye-catching protest by Greenpeace activists this week, a spokeswoman said Thursday.
Using zip lines, nine environmental activists unfurled huge banners from the 12th floor of P&G’s corporate offices Tuesday, criticizing the consumer product company’s use of palm oil from a supplier that Greenpeace says it tied to tropical forest destruction in Indonesia. Authorities were stunned that the activists were able to carry out their protest from inside a company known for stringent security to protect both its personnel and innovations in best-selling brands such as Tide detergent and Pampers diapers.
“Our global security team is crackerjack, and they have already taken steps to better secure the area,” spokeswoman Lisa Popyk said.
She declined to disclose the changes, and said she didn’t know whether anyone had been disciplined for the breach.
But she did provide new details on how the protesters gained entry. She said the company determined from its initial investigation that one activist claimed to have an appointment.
Dressed in unobtrusive business clothes, he then let in the others through another door, she said. They carried their protest materials, including a tiger costume, in what Popyk called “inconspicuous bags.”
“It was very clever, and well-planned,” she said.
She said P&G has surveillance cameras throughout its buildings and was still reviewing them.
Police arrested the activists on burglary and vandalism charges. They were released Wednesday on $50,000 bond each.
“We were here because we want to get our message out,” protester Tyler Sanville, 28, of Santa Cruz, Calif., said in a statement after his release. “That Procter & Gamble is buying palm oil linked to rainforest destruction, which is destroying the habitat of endangered species like orangutans and Sumatran tigers.”
The protest banners targeted P&G’s Head & Shoulders shampoo. Palm oil is commonly used in shampoo, cosmetics and other personal products.
A judge told the activists Wednesday that their protest was “a reckless and ill-advised stunt.” Their cases will go to a Hamilton County grand jury.
Authorities said more than $10,000 in damage was done, mostly to window locks.
Popyk reiterated that P&G is committed to 100 percent sustainable sourcing of its palm oil by 2015, saying it is “on the same side of the issue” as Greenpeace.
Contact the reporter at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell